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Capirossi signals Ducati revival at Assen

Capirossi signals Ducati revival at Assen

Capirossi signals Ducati revival at Assen

Two years after setting pole position for the Dutch TT in his first season with Ducati at Assen, Loris Capirossi today sparked hopes of a revival for the Italian factory with the fastest lap on the opening day of action at the 75th anniversary of the famous event.

The Italian struggled to eleventh place in the last round at Catalunya, just seven days after his first podium of the season at Mugello, but his early pace in Holland suggests he can be back to challenge for the Italian factory's second MotoGP victory in Saturday's historic race.

"We are in a much better situation than we were at Barcelona two weeks ago but we need to work on bike set-up to get more out of the tyres," said Capirossi. "The front is fine but we're still trying to find a good rear for the race. I did my fastest lap at the end of the session on my number two bike with a race rear I hadn't used before so we'll test that tyre for more laps tomorrow. At the moment we're not super-competitive in race trim but Bridgestone are working so hard that we have got a lot of new tyres to try here."

Despite Capirossi's late charge there is little doubt that the dominant force throughout the day was current series leader Valentino Rossi, who set the pace for the morning practice and most of the afternoon on the Yamaha before ultimately being bettered by his compatriot. Honda's Sete Gibernau trailed Rossi for most of the day and ended up third fastest on the combined time sheets, 0.197 seconds adrift of the World Champion.

Alex Barros began his quest to repeat his 500cc victory here from 2000 with the fourth fastest time on ahead of Honda colleagues Marco Melandri and Nicky Hayden. Capirossi's Ducati team-mate Carlos Checa, who finished second to Mick Doohan here in 1997, was seventh quickest, with Colin Edwards, Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano completing the top ten. The only crash today in the MotoGP class came from Ruben Xaus, who escaped uninjured from a high-speed tumble that wrecked his Yamaha.


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